Saturday, August 30, 2008

Introduction to Cut-In Method (Physical Lamination)

Friday we made scones, biscuits, and pie dough. We had a grand total of 10 people at class Friday night - everyone else took the night off for the three-day weekend. Their loss - they're going to need the pie dough Tuesday! And class went soooo fast. We were out by 10 pm. Awesome. I was just going to go home, but Rico asked me to get a drink, so Master, Whiskey, Rico and I went to pizza.

Tonight I was paired with T because Tennessee's sister was in town and Irish is back home dealing with legal stuff. And going to a pig picking. As in picking the pig to roast. It's a southern thing, apparently.

I made the bisquits, T made the scones, and we each made a pie dough (me flaky, him mealy).

The cut-in method creates flaky dough. Steps: 1) whisk dry 2) cut up butter into large pieces 3) break up butter into flour by hand (size of hazelnuts) 4) make well in center, pour in buttermilk 5) toss by hand until just together 6) gently knead together

7) if rolling out, do to 1/2 in thick, and cut out rounds (max two roll-outs/cuts per dough before gets tough); if flattening, flatten to 1/2 in thick circle, then cut 12 wedges 8) milk wash with leftover buttermilk drops

Our partner class made a big batch of sausage and bacon gravy. I've actually never had gravy before but this was really good. And mine and T.'s bisquits were perfectly flaky on top.

Scones: between steps 3 and 4, can add in flavors (T used chocolate chips and dried cherries). 7) divide dough in half, flatten two rounds, cut six wedges in each. 8) milk wash, sprinkle with coarse sugar. Chef recommends using a heavy cream instead of buttermilk for the scones.

Pie Dough:
Depending on the recipe, you may need either flaky or mealy dough. Follow the above directions for flaky, and for mealy, break up the butter in the flour into tiny pieces, until the dough starts to look like cornmeal. Then gently knead together. We wrapped it up and froze it at this point - pie dough keeps well in the fridge for about 2 days, but once you need it later than that, freeze it.

Scones and bisquits can also be frozen - either the dough or the baked. I wanted to have more practice with flaky because scones are on the practical.

Rico blew my mind tonight with an observation she has made about T. - he never helps clean. Sometimes, he may do his own space, or push a broom, but generally, he does not clean. And no one ever notices. I definitely had not. He works at a pace that allows him to finish right at the end, and then moves enough that no one notices that he isn't helping to clean. Amazing. She made a good point though: why be mad about it? He really wants to be in a kitchen, and this is going to catch up with him on the job. I wasn't mad so much as shocked. I admire T.'s culinary skills, and it amazes me that he wouldn't participate in a major part of being in a kitchen. Interesting.

On another note, my fridge is stocked full of baked goods. And I don't really know what to do with them. I gave some to my dad and mom, but we really aren't much of a sweets family, so I know they'll eat it because they want to taste my product, but I didn't want to give them a bunch of food they won't eat. And I don't really want to bring it to work, because I don't have enough to go around, and so many of my co-workers claim to be dieting. And some of it crumbled, since I bring it home in plastic bags stuffed into my bag so no one sees us "disposing" of it. But I hate throwing food away. It's a serious dilemma, people! I would just freeze it, but let me remind you that I have a 2/3 fridge, and it already looks like this:

It's a three-day weekend, and I am very excited about it! Not because I have a fun-filled weekend ahead, but because I'll be able to sleep all I want, work out daily, do laundry, and go grocery shopping. Party animal here, people. I have plans with friends that I'm looking forward to, but it's those four things that excite me most about 3 days off from work and school...
So. The boy. The text messaging is still happening, but he had to go to Mexico for work. Two weeks to a month. That's a long time when you aren't defined. And, really, it's longer, since I didn't see him see the weekend before he left due to the wedding. I'm so busy working and going to school full time, but it's amazing how quickly one gets used to talking to and seeing someone...
Oh, recipes... I'll get them up, but I've just been a little busy. I'm not sure if people want recipes, or just more instruction on methods.
Lessons Learned:
Things go a lot quicker when there are less people in the kitchen.
The amount of sugar is the only difference between bisquits and scones.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Practical 2

Today we had our quick breads and cookie practical: make six muffins, 12 chocolate chip cookies, and 6 macaroon sandwiches.

I got a 191/200 (58 muffins, 55 cookies, 58 macaroons, 20 kitchen behavior).

Here's what my mistakes were:

As you can see, my muffins are a little off in shape. I was being just a bit lazy, and instead of just pouring the extra batter to make a tiny seventh, I topped off two of the six. That was stupid since consistency matters in grading. Oh well, he said they tasted good.
Similar problems with consistency for the chocolate chip cookies. I knew that walking up there. I lost 5 points for it because it was so obvious. I need to buy a scoop instead of using my measuring spoons - getting all the batter out of the spoons is a mess. And they're darker than I wanted, but he said it still falls in the acceptable range. And they tasted right too.
No surprise here, but also problems with consistency for the macaroons. I am still frustrated with this process, but at least I'm closer now, so give me a reason to practice whipping eggs and sugar people... throw a party or something! I got the meringue exactly right, but I must be messing something up with my folding technique. I think it's also because it's an intricate process, and I don't have the best attention span or focus - I get bored pretty easily and just want things to be done, especially when I'm tired. I'm not the most dedicated person you'll meet, not even close... So I was disappointed, and even though they didn't spread as much as yesterday, I thought they would get marked down a lot, but he said they tasted fine, and the color is good. Cool.
Then we took a test, which, he's so nice, he found an all multiple choice version instead of fill-in-the-blank. Thank goodness. I still definitely missed some, but at least I have a chance to guess correctly!

I got a 94/100 on the written part of the first exam, and 23/25 on the vocabulary.
Lessons learned:
When you get soaked in the dishroom in an attempt to clear another few feet of dishes, you don't dry very quickly. But getting out at 11pm makes up for it! On that note, I'm off to bed to catch an extra hour of sleep - maybe then I can work out tomorrow afternoon instead of napping for 1.5 hours. And go out tomorrow... Tennessee's sister is visiting and she wants me to meet her. Then possibly Jazz Fest and out again. Mostly, I'm just excited about the fact that I will have time to work out and do laundry. And sleep until I feel like waking up. Here's to three-day weekends!

Introduction to Egg Foam/Sponging Methods

Wednesday we made Almond Macaroons, Chocolate Brownie Cookies, and Baton Marechaux. These were hard! Each involves some level of meringue, and I haven't made that since 7th grade Home Ec because the procedure scares me off - you have to do it exactly right or your cookies fall. And fall mine did...

When using the foaming method, everything should be room temperature when whipped together (eggs and sugar). Then fold in the rest of the ingredients, taking care not to lose too much air. If you lose air, you can't fix it once the dry ingredients have been added - you just have to start all over. Make sure to fold, not mix - this will knock out the air.

Almond Macaroons: whip egg whites until foamy, then slowly add sugar. Once have medium stiff peak but still glossy, whip in vanilla (although this can also be folded in). Don't whask whisk against side of bowl, or you will lose air. Sift dry ingredients, then fold in, a little at a time. Folding should be done quickly and gently. Then pipe out into quarter/half-dollar size, using medium plain tip. Set aside to dry before baking (when touched with finger, should not pull away any batter). Bake at 350F convection.
As you can see, mine are way to runny. Chef helped me whip it, and he said it was the right stiffness, but I must have messed up when folding in the dry. Practice Practice Practice. Except it's on the practical tomorrow. Oh well. Tomorrow I'm whipping mine by hand instead of the machine - it just didn't work!
Chocolate Brownie Cookies: Heat chocolate over double boiler. Whisk eggs and sugar, add vanilla. Fold in cooled but still runny chocolate, then fold in dry. Fold in nuts (optional), and set aside covered for 5 minutes. Can either be scooped or piped. 325F convection 8-10 minutes. These turned out pretty well.
Baton Marechaux: Sift dry. Double boil egg and sugar, whip. Fold in dry. Pipe 3 inches long. Sprinkle almonds on top. Bake 325 convection. Also too runny.
We were there late today - it took forever to clean the kitchen. There were so many dishes! I don't know if our class ditched them, or the class next door (we share a dishroom), but oh man was it a mess. We always get stuck doing the final clean in the dishroom. Even if we weren't the last ones in there - they must tell their Chef it was us. I heard some of them complaining loudly while we were all in there that we had made the mess - but our people doing dishes said it wasn't our stuff. I mean, of course some of it was, but not all of it. I don't know. When I had taken stuff in there for the first and second recipes, I did mine and put them away, and there was nothing else in there. But when we finally finished our third, there were several stacks of a couple feet. Just like in the cartoons. And then Chef reviewed for the test tomorrow for fifteen minutes. I was very tired this morning when I got up.
Chef expressed some frustration with our class last night - he said some people had been done an hour and a half before the last people, so some people need to pick up speed. And then that people standing around doing nothing instead of helping made our cleaning take longer than it needed to. Again, I don't really understand what happened, but I don't doubt that some people who finished early didn't bother helping clean. Some partnerships are starting to break apart at the seam due to frustrations that people aren't pulling equal weight either in gathering ingredients, mixing, or cleaning. Tennessee continues to pick me, so I hope I'm doing my part like I think I am.
I'm at work, so I'll upload pictures when I get home. Speaking of, time to go meet some more case management kids, and then it's time to leave!

Lessons learned:
In a commercial microwave, you can put in stainless steel bowls. But it must say "commercial" on it!
Pistoles are small coin-sized chocolates
To make meringues fluffier, heat egg and sugar to 11-120F in double boiler before whipping. Stir while over double boiler. This does not take long to get to this temperature.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Creamed Cookies

I feel like I’m learning to live with less sleep – I didn’t even drink coffee at work yesterday, and I felt like I was functioning fine. Although, I did take a 1.5 hour nap after school, and I struggled a bit after that. Luckily, Rico brought me a vanilla latte (she works at Starbucks), and that was really good. But I think this might be okay – when I’m busy, I don’t feel as tired. We'll see how today goes - I went to sleep around 1am, and I think I remember waking up a lot during the night. And I already miss working out. I see the beautiful sky reflecting against the lake and skyline and people dressed in shorts and sneakers, and I think, oh man I wish I could go running.
We made cookies Tuesday night – Chocolate Chip and Spritz. We were also supposed to make Oatmeal Raisin, but apparently our oats did not come in. Again, it’s not like that is a hard item to get or used infrequently in kitchens – why doesn’t purchasing work properly at a culinary school?

Both cookies use the creaming method. We worked individually today because the school takes student cookie products and uses them for meetings, open houses, and orientations. Since we worked individually and I didn't pick up a mixing bowl until after I had my mise en place, I got stuck with a baby mixer.
I consider these kind of lousy professional mixers. As you can see, it is tiny. And not very strong.
Cookie dough is really soft, so it's okay to use these machines for that, but still, it was an irritating process. I just didn't like it as well as the bigger ones.
Here's my large tray of chocolate chip cookies.
These are a flat Tablespoon portion sized (as opposed to rounded). If they spread flat, it means your dough was too soft/warm. If you don't work fast enough portioning them out, just stick the pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes until they're harder again. As you can see, I tried to fit too many onto the pan - after this I still had dough left over, so I ended up needing another pan anyway, but they were getting soft so i couldn't move the portioned dough... No big deal, they turned out the right shape and size. Even though we weren't supposed to "discard" any until the good ones had been packaged for storage, I took my quarter sheet pan of six to take home and bring to work.
These are Spritz cookies. This is a very basic recipe where the point is the shape and additions. They can be made into rosettes:
figure 8's:
or shells.
They can then have drops of jam added (rosettes and figure 8's),
or dipped in chocolate and/or nuts (all).
Or you just leave some plain. My piping has really improved since Culinary Skills I. I haven't been practicing, but I think maybe this stuff all just becomes easier the more you work with everything and learn basic rules with the tools. Or maybe I'm just a natural.... ha. I liked these in their pre-baking state - the piping is so clear. Then they spread a little when baking and become more flat. Chef says that's what they're suppsoed to do, but I just don't think they look as pretty. As soon as they start to show color on the edges, pull them out and cool.
With all cookies (and everything else, really), there is carry-over cooking, so you want to bake almost just under and then pull out. Then cool on the sheet pan in a cooling rack. This is obviously not possible in a home kitchen, so I usually do about 1 min on the pan, and then move to wire racks.

Lessons Learned:
Never put oil or butter a pan for cookies. Just use parchment paper. There is enough fat in cookies to make them not stick to the pan.
Confectioner’s sugar is just regular sugar ground down. There are two types of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar when bought commercially – 6x and 10x. It is the degree of how many times the sugar is ground down. Use 6x when the sugar will be mixed into the dough. Use 10x when it will be visible, either for dusting or in frosting.
Chefs always use unsalted butter when baking cookies, as it gives them more control over how much salt goes into the cookies. However, if you are using a cookbook, judge based on what the recipe says, as most are written for home cooks who are likely to have salted butter in their fridges.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Principles of Baking - Muffin Method, Creaming Method

Monday was a busy day for me. I met Chef at 4pm like he had suggested, but he had worked a double (been at school since 6:30), so he said since I’m an efficient worker, I could come back and start at 5:30 instead. I had rushed there from work, so at first I was a tiny bit irritated, but I realized that allowed me to unpack all my stuff from my car and eat a real dinner, so I was okay with it. I came back at the appointed time, and he left me alone in the kitchen to start prepping my dough. Technically, students are not supposed to be left alone in the kitchen (we could steal or damage things), and another Chef asked me why I was there, but the Chef who teaches the other certificate class was actually keeping an eye on me from his kitchen next door.
I had to make enough dough for 12 soft rolls and then enough dough for 3 baguette loafs, the best of which would be presented to Chef. I don’t think I used warm enough water so it took my dough awhile to rise, but I was having trouble judging how long they are supposed to take to rise since I was all alone and had no one to compare to. And when there was a fire drill at 6:30 (which, I had to point out to some person in office clothes that you can’t actually hear the alarm in the bathrooms) and I saw Chef, he seemed fine with my progress that the doughs were still rising. It took me until about 8:30/8:45 to finish baking off everything, which meant I missed a lot of the lecture/demo for Monday’s recipes, but he said I meant my time requirements easily.
I got 85/90 on my baguette loaf, losing a few points for consistency in rolling and shape. But, Chef said the color was excellent, as was the taste. My rolls turned out perfect – 90/90. He didn’t even mark down points in the individual categories because he said he could see right away that I had gotten full points in each category. Master sampled one of my extras (the dough comes out to about 20 rolls) and said my rolls should be in a bakery – yay!!! Chef says I am very consistent and do a very good job. Since I was trying to not miss too much of the lecture while completing my practical, I forgot to take photos of my finished product. I took one baguette loaf and the rolls home, so maybe I’ll remember to take a picture this afternoon.
This is what happens when you try to dump flour into a mixer without lowering the bowl:

whoops! Clearly, I tried to scrape some of that back in (the tables are cleaned and sanitized after every class) since it's measured exactly to the ounce, but when I moved the mixer to clean the table after I finished, I definitely found I had not picked it all up. Oh well, it didn't effect the taste. Lesson learned.
This is a photo of my roll dough before I moved it above the oven to allow the heat to help it rise (never put it directly on the oven - put another baking sheet upside down and then set it on that). The reason I have this is I just think this photo turned out really well - the lighting and everything. Cool photo, right? The room still had daylight at the time I took it, as opposed to the ugly old fluorescent lighting we have at night.

Technically, we’re not supposed to leave with product, but Chef says that as long as he does not see how we “dispose” of the product, he doesn’t know. I was so glad I had a backpack instead of my large purse last night – it was filled to the brim with goodies!
I’ll take the exam tomorrow, which means I should really study today at work – since I’m getting about five day extra.
Okay, on to what we learned in class: we made a basic blueberry muffin recipe, chocolate zucchini bread, and vanilla pound cake. We also have a recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins.
So, after lecure, Tennessee and I paired up. Since my school teaches "methods," we were taught the Muffin Method, which Chef admitted makes lousy muffins compared to the Creaming Method, but we have to learn it anyway. Basically, you whisk dry with dry, and mix wet with wet, and then mix together until just combined.
We did our mise en place one at a time because once lecture finished, we had plenty of time. We actually started last with our first one because it was kind of crazy over at the measuring table - as usual, the same people rush rush rush and crowd others out... No problems though, Tennessee and I are very efficient, so we were done at the same time as everyone else. Chef wanted to get out early tonight due to his double that day and the triple he was doing Tuesday. Even though he's part-time, he subs a lot, so he's always available to his students.
The only mistakes she and I made weren't even caught by Chef. She accidentally used 2 t of vanilla for the zucchini bread when we were only supposed to use 1 (we halved the recipe, and she accidentally used the original amount). But I don't think it was noticeable. And then our pound cake looked all crispy and done, and Chef approved it, but then when we cut into it, soft batter pooted out of the top - whoops! Good thing he was getting tired and didn't test our's with a toothpick for doneness. We had started our's in a 325 oven, but Russia said it was supposed to be at 300, so I moved it to another oven - Tennessee thinks that might be why it seemed all done except for within an inch of the top. We just dumped it - I was kind of carbed out, and she said she didn't want it either.
I took home half the muffins and half the bread. That's it below.
I haven't tasted either yet, but Tennessee said they turned out well. I tasted a little bit of the bread batter, and it was good. I love batter. It smells so good and tastes so creamy. I don't really worry about the raw egg part - since I'm the one that cracks them open, I can see that they are fresh.
We were ready to go around 10:45, but Chef kept us until 11:00. Technically, we're supposed to stay until 11:45, but 11:00 seems to be a time a lot of Chefs let their classes out. Definitely our partner class is always out way earlier than us. I still went to bed at midnight, but at least I fell asleep right around then - usually class keeps me up for at least an hour after I get home.

Lessons Learned:
If you can find good fresh blueberries, use those, but typically in professional kitchens, IQF (individually quick frozen) berries are used. Take 1 T of your dry mixture and stir it with the berries to absorb some of the moisture, or you may turn your muffins into smurf muffins. Oh, and these are all known as quick breads, because they use chemical leaveners (baking powder or soda) to help them rise.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rich Dough

Thursday we made cinnamon rolls. I highly recommend making these – I brought them for the road trip for my sister’s wedding (!!) and they were loved by all! I love this class. I have been baking from scratch since I was an undergrad, and people always told me they liked my stuff, but I always wondered if that was just because they were being nice… but I think I might actually be good at this. Not that I’m a star by any means, but I do feel like my stuff is pretty consistent, and I really really enjoy it as we work on it. Of course sometimes I’m tired and I just want to stop, but so far, I really find a lot of pleasure in baking.
It was just Irish and me on this recipe (doubled again) because Tennessee paired off with Nemo because Rico had not come to class. Sad. We love our threesome!
Sponge –
2 oz water
8 oz scalded and cooled milk
1 oz fresh yeast
10 oz bread flour
10 oz pastry flour
Straight dough –
2 oz butter
1.5 oz sugar
1 egg
½ oz salt
Sponge then straight dough method.
Roll out to size of half-sheet pan, about ¼ in thick. Spread butter over dough, then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon mix (seasoned to your liking). Leave about one-inch at the edge empty. Pull dough away and pinch down, starting away from you. Do this all the way toward you. This will form a roll. Cut into 16 even pieces. Usually these are baked in a pie tin, but we didn’t have enough to go around, so they looked like this (proofed, then baked and glazed): Hee! So fat! Clearly, our dough bounced back to about one-half inch instead of one-fourth, but look how funny and fat they are!
The glaze is just powdered sugar, water, and vanilla extract. Make sure you only use a tiny amount of vanilla, or it comes out brown. Whoops, mine was not totally brown, but it wasn't exactly white either! I made mine thick, but Chef said it could have been even thicker. Look - Tennessee and I made quite a mess on the table glazing the rolls - fun times!
After class, I picked up my sister’s (Suzan) boyfriend, and we headed off to the airport to pick her up. Then we drove out to the suburbs to stay with another sister (Aylin), from which we were leaving at 4 am to drive up to Mackinac Island. It was a long ride, but fun just the same! Deniz (my oldest sister) and Brad had beautiful weather for the ceremony after a monsoon in the morning, and it went off without a hitch! Congratulations again to the couple!

But, going there meant I missed the exam and practical Friday. So, that means Monday I go to work, go straight to school, take an exam, make baguette and rolls from scratch, and then go to class. They got to make their baguette dough Thursday night. I’m going to be tired by the time I get home. Just a bit. I care about how I do, just because I like this stuff, but at the same time, I realize that due to my schedule, I cannot necessarily be expected to perform my best. I’ll do the best I can, but I have not been known to perform flawlessly when I tired – I tend to forget things. Oh well – the weekend was worth it!

Lessons Learned:
Irish and I panicked a little bit, because after I made the dough and it was fermenting and she was cleaning our station, she found an egg in our mise en place. I could have sworn I cracked two eggs, but then why was there another egg there? Oh, it took us a bit, but then we realized who we were standing next to, and remembered that that pair, instead of cleaning up after themselves and putting stuff away, tends to just move it over into someone else's space. Which is also how the croissant cutter ended up on my clean table when I had already put my stuff away. These are also a pair that hide in the broom closet instead of helping everyone else clean the kitchen. You can't choose your classmates or workmates, so it's good to learn how to deal with all kinds. And learn to vent in your head, or possibly on your blog... I think it is unbelievably rude, immature, and lazy to behave this way, but some people go their whole lives acting this way... I figure, they are the ones that will get fired from jobs, not me, so why get too upset about it? This class is actually helping me practice all kinds of maturity/coping skills. This summer and year has been all about learning when to let go, when to ignore things, and when to learn to laugh about situations/behavior. I am really learning to shrug my shoulders when I used to explode, and walking away instead of talking back. Not perfectly by any means, but I really do find myself calming others down more often than I need calming down. Am I actually growing up?
Now, the challenge will be to apply this to my actual job. Even just being back for a couple days, things are really hitting the fan here. Applying those skills there will be the ultimate challenge.

Laminated Dough

Wednesday we made two different Danish pastries – croissants and regular danishes. Okay, I’m having a little trouble remembering because this was last Wednesday, but I’ll try my best.
For both, you use a sponge method to make the dough, and soften 20 oz of butter for rolling into the dough once it is ready. It was our threesome again, and again Chef asked us to double our recipe. I guess we’re consistent? Whatever, we’re happy to do it. I didn’t actually do more than make the dough – Tennessee and Irish both did the rolling out and cutting of the doughs. If I remember correctly, I was really tired, but mostly it was that I was grossed out by the amount of butter necessary to make these breads. Seriously. 20 oz. That is 1 ¼ sticks of butter. Rolled into the shape of a flat sheet. Gross.
The dough was made Wednesday, cut Thursday, and baked Friday, so I missed the baking part. After it has proofed, roll the dough to the size of a half-sheet pan, then rotate 90 degrees, and roll out again to the size of a half-sheet pan. Lay butter on half of the dough, then fold the other half over. Seam the edges. Roll out again to the size of a half-sheet pan. Tri-fold the dough, and mark one thumbprint – this process will need to be repeated twice more, and the thumbprint helps you keep track of how many times you have completed the process. Allow to relax in fridge for about 15 min – you want the dough to be cold when you do this process (see below).
There are two ways to cut croissants – the traditional rolled shape and the Pain au Chocolat. The rolled shape actually has it’s own cutter that makes a triangle with a tiny v cut into the top. Then you stretch the dough and roll from the v, tucking the seam underneath. Make sure the dough is rolled to about ¼ in – otherwise these will be too thick. I was really tired, so I think mine were closer to ½ in. Pain au Chocolat – bread of chocolate – take strips of dough, place one strip of chocolate, roll over, one more strip, roll over, and close seam. We used professional chocolate that is only available to commercial kitchens, but Chef said chocolate chips will work well here also.
Danish can also be cut in multiple ways. We rolled the dough out to ¼ in thick, and cut into ½ in strips. Fold in half, then twist and roll to form a spiral, tucking the end underneath. Press down in the center – this is where jam will go. There is also a figure 8 style, and I’m sure others.
Eggwash, and then bake.

I brought in my extra brioche to work Wednesday, and shared with a couple of frie
nds – I don’t think there was a need for me to eat any more of that buttery buttery bread… They loved it! I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ll do with the sweet/buttery stuff we make – I don’t really want it in my house, and I’m happy to share with friends!
Ummm and I have no idea why the photo is rotated this way - I am way too tired to figure this out at work.

Lessons Learned:
Danishes are considered “laminated doughs.” This means that layers of dough and butter are created by rotating and folding the dough multiple times before baking. The butter cooks off and creates steam. That is how you get the thin layers and air pockets you see in croissants. Be careful not to tear the dough, and if your kitchen is around 88F like our’s is, butter will poot out of the dough. That’s okay though – just pack it back in, pinch the dough, and cover with flour. It’s okay, it even happened to Chef. Or you could actually just have an air conditioner that works… ah, professional kitchens – so hot!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lean Dough, Day 2

Tuesday we baked off our baguette and whole wheat dough, and then made brioche dough. We were apparently supposed to have a vocab quiz (whoops, missed that announcement), but Chef had a root canal, and so didn’t feel like giving it or talking much.
We learned how to roll baguette dough, which involves pinching the dough
underneath while rolling it until it's tight. Like most things with cooking, it's a feeling rather than something that can be really described. But first you have to scale them out to 13 oz - in France it's exactly 11 oz, and the government can apparently shut a business down if they don't do this exactly. At least that's what Chef says. Once you've formed a roll, flatten it out to a rectangle. Then fold over and pinch until you have a log. Hand over hand, roll it out evenly, until it's about 16 inches. Seal it, and move to full sheet baking pan, with seal down. Allow to rise. Once it rises, spray with water, sprinkle with flour, then make five slashes. Baguettes need to be steamed, so once the pan is in the oven, throw in ice and spray into the oven. Cook until golden brown. That is one of mine in the middle - Tennessee's are sandwiching mine. My other one was on Irish's sheet.
Whole wheat: same rolls method as yesterday. That’s the one Tennessee ripped into before I had a chance to take the photo.

Herb Foccacia - our's was delicious. We (Tennessee, Irish and I) made quadruple the recipe because Chef used half of ours to make his demo. It got huge!

It's a really simple recipe (we made 4x this), 10 oz water, 3/4 oz fresh yeast, 14 oz bread flour, 1/2 oz olive oil, and 1/4 oz salt. Straight Dough Method. Once rises, spray 1/2 sheet pan, put down parchment, spray again. Beat down the dough, then roll out to size of pan. Flour well, then fold to transfer, push to fill pan. Pour olive oil over, and spread out. Press into dough with tips of fingers. Lots! Have fun with this step! The oil will pool into the dips. Top with rosemary and a little bit of salt. Proof, then bake. Oops, we accidentally cut into this, which apparently Chef has said we weren't supposed to. I didn't hear him say it, and neither did Tennessee - oh well, that meant I got to take it home to freeze it! I'm kind of running out of room in my freezer since the company who owns my building clearly believes single people don't need fridges that are real sizes...

3 oz milk, 1 egg, 1 oz fresh yeast, 2 oz bread flour
4 eggs, 2.5 oz sugar, 1/2 oz salt, 18 oz bread flour
7 oz butter
Sponge Method: scald milk and cool to 95F, whisk in egg and yeast, then mix with hand 2 oz bread flour. Cover, proof
Add remaining ingredients, minus butter. Mix to full gluten development, mount in butter, little pieces at a time or the dough gets greasy.
We're allowing this to rise overnight.

Lessons Learned:
Rolling baguettes into logs is really hard! Chef says it just takes a lot of practice. And Brioche is really really buttery. I felt kind of disgusting throwing it into the mixer, since the room was so hot, it had become really gooey in the monkey bowl and I had to scoop/dig it out.

Damnit. Okay, I had this all set up in word because I had lots of photos, but it didn't copy properly and I have a lot to accomplish this afternoon because we leave for my sister's wedding after class tomorrow... I'll try it again some time next week.
Speaking of, I am back to work tomorrow. It may delay my ability to get posts up at the rate I have been. Sorry!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Recipes from Meat Fab - Beef

Grilled Sirloin Steak with Whole Grain Mustard Sauce
2 T minced garlic
1 T coarsely chopped fresh oregana
2 T cumin seeds, toasted
2 T paprika
3 T whole grain mustard
2 oz olive oil
3 oz red wine vinegar
4 oz sirloin steak
salt and fresh ground pepper
-combine the garlic, oregano, cumin, paprika, mustard, oil and vinegar. Pat the steak dry with paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper, then coat generously with the spice paste.
-grill or saute steak to medium rare doneness

Steak Diane
4 oz sirloin, tenderloin or flank steak
1.5 oz worcestershire sauce
1 oz shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 T lemon juice
1 t mustard powder
1.5 t thyme
1 oz brandy
2 oz heavy cream
1 T parsley, chopped
1 T chives, snipped
- heat saute pan, add clarified butter, heat, sear steaks, remove and keep warm. depending on thickness, you may need to finish them in the oven to desired doneness
- in the same pan, add more clarified butter and saute mushrooms. Add shallots and garlic and sweat until fragrant
- off the heat, add brandy and burn. Once brandy is burnt, add Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard powder and cream. reduce to nappe, adjust seasoning and finish with fresh herbs. serve over steak.

Grilled Medallion with Romesco
3/4 c olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 slice white bread crust removed
1/2 c almonds
1 red pepper roasted and peeled
1 tomato roasted and peeled
1/2 t cayenne
1/2 t hot paprika
1/4 c sherry vinegar
-grill steak
-gently fry the garlic in the oil until softened and golden
-fry the almonds and bread until golden
-combine remaining ingredients

Steak au Poivre
4 oz fillet
1 t oil
2 t black pepper cracked
2 T butter
1 T cognac
1/2 c beef stock
1/4 c heavy cream
- lightly rub the beef with some of the oil. generously coat with peppercorn
- season with salt
- heat pan with remaining oil
- add 1 T of butter and wait for it to foam then sear the meat on all sides
- place in the oven to cook to the desired doneness. Remove beef to rest
- deglaze and scrape the pan with the brandy, burn. add the stock and cream to reduce
- finish with butter and check seasoning.

Recipes from Meat Fab - Poultry

Here's the recipes we never made in meat fab...
Chicken Picatta (1 portion)
season flour with salt and pepper
season 1 pounded chicken breast with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour
heat a saute pan and add 2 T of butter and 1 T of olive oil
add the chicken and saute until golden on both sides
remove the chiken to a warm plate and then deglaze the pan with 1.5 T lemon juice and 4 oz chicken stock
add 1/4 t capers and check seasoning. return chicken to the pan and simmer to heat through
add 2 t parsley and remaining butter to finish sauce.

Chicken Wing (for 1/2 lb of wings)
season wings with salt and pepper
fry until golden and they float
immediately toss in sauce mix (1 bottle hot sauce, 4 oz butter, 1/2 t cayenne, 2 T honey, and 2 oz red wine vinegar)

Grilled Turkey Paillard with Chimichurri
combine (1/4 c cilantro, 1 T chopped mint, 1 T chopped parsley, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 pinch red pepper flakes, 1.5 t cider vinegar, 1.5 t water, and 1/4 t salt) and check seasonings

Confit (for 6 lbs of duck)
2T ground black pepper, 1/2T ground cinnamon, 1/2T ground clove, 1/4t ground allspice, 3 crumbled bay leaf, 4T kosher salt, and 1 t TCM

Turkey Burger with Onion Confit
combine (2.5 lb ground turkey, 1 t salt, 1 t sugar, 1 t minced garlic, 1/2 t fennel seeds, 1/2 t chopped rosemary, 1/2 t chopped thyme, 1/4 t cayenne, and 1/4 t black pepper) and paddle for 2 min
form into 4 oz patties
bake or grill ntil they reach an internal temperature of 165F
Onion Confit
combine (1 lb sliced onion, 2.5 oz red wine vinegar, 2 oz honey, 2 oz red wine, and 1 pinch ground black pepper) and simmer until jam-like

Lean Dough, Day 1

I. Love. Baking. I have always loved it, but I. Love. Baking. Today we paired up (Tennessee and I) and made three doughs: soft roll dough, 30% whole wheat dough, and baguette dough. We only baked off the soft roll dough and the others are rising overnight in the cooler.
I also really like Chef C. He's nice, and has a ton of experience baking. He said he started around 10, and was sent to CIA (Culinary Instititute of America - THE premiere culinary school in America) at 16...that is incredible. He's been the pastry chef at hotels in Vegas, commercial kitchens, and restaurants. He has 20 years of experience in baking and patisserie, and he's so young!
We went over the syllabus, and then he did a brief demo on the Straight Dough Method. Then we had a go.
Straight Dough Method:
-liquid first
-add yeast and mix in
-add flour
-add salt
-add remaining ingredients
-put the mixer to work! speed 1 (1 min), speed 2 (7 min).
Stretch dough, gliding over fingers, to see if you can make a 'window' (dough is see-through without stretching), and then allow to rise.

Soft Roll
10 oz water
3/4 oz fresh yeast
22 oz bread flour
1 oz nonfat dry milk solids
2 oz sugar
2 oz butter
1 ea egg
1/2 oz salt
Mix: straight dough method
makeup: 18-20 oz per pan loaf; 2 oz dinner roll shapes
garnish: egg wash, sesame seeds, or poppy seeds
baking; 325-350F convection

30% Whole Wheat
10 oz water
3/4 oz fresh yeast
15 oz bread flour
7 oz whole wheat flour
1 oz NFDMS
2 oz sugar
2 oz butter
1 oz egg
1/2 oz salt
Mixing: straight dough method
Makeup: 18-20 oz per pan loaf; 2 oz dinner roll shapes
garnish: egg wash, sesame seeds, or poppy seeds
baking: 325-350F convection

15 oz water
1/2 oz fresh yeast
24.5 oz bread flour
1/2 oz salt
mixing: straight dough method
makeup: 2 ea, 13 oz, 18-21 in; 5 slashes for baguette and biased scissor cuts for Epi (wheat stalk)
panning: Semolina on full sheet pan
garnish: dust with bread flour prior to slashing, if desired; seed mix on epis
baking: 400-425F convection with steam

Seriously, I may start baking my own bread at home. Well, maybe at least try it, because my studio only has a 3/4 oven. But it doesn't take as long as I thought, so it's feasible. And considering how much a loaf of bread seems to be these days...

Russia accused Tennesse and I of being a "clique" today. We weren't purposely excluding anyone, but Irish is out of town with her sick mother-in-law, and we were partners... Rico was with Nemo, and Russia was with T. And then I could hear Rico and Nemo talking about me, but I don't know why, and I don't know that I really want to know why. I have to be careful I don't get pulled into gossipy/venting conversations. I've been the victim of that before, and I'm really trying to stay away from that.

I went back to work today. I am not happy about it. I am much happier at school. As much as I used to love school psych, and still love working with adolescents, I don't know if it is the career for me anymore. I still don't want to be in a kitchen, but should I really stay in a field I'm so unhappy in, even if i think the main reason I'm unhappy is my boss? And that my role in this school only uses maybe a quarter of my skill set? I have to job search again this year (I couldn't find a good high school opening last year), but if I can't find anything this spring, I think I'll have to find a different field. Sad. I really love working with adolescents.

Lessons Learned:
If the recipe calls for dry yeast, you can use fresh, just double the measurement. When using dry yeast, use warm water (95-105F) to activate the yeast. If using fresh yeast, use cold water if baking same day, but use warm water if going to ferminate overnight. Salt kills yeast, but putting the flour in first to the mix serves as a buffer. Yeast expels gas which causes dough to rise, but dies at 140F.

p.s. I changed the comments section so now anyone can comment...but if i get spam, i'll have to change it back. I wish it would allow me to let both google accounts and openid to sign in, but it doesn't...
And Sejica, hope you enjoy the photo! There will be more coming. And I might have time this week to post some chicken recipes for you... hope you are settling in well!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Meat and Seafood Fabrication Practical

Thursday we had our final and practical for meat fab. We had to truss a chicken, then cut it into quarter pieces, cut another into sixths, filet a flat fish and skin one filet, filet a round fish, and clean half a tenderloin. Oh yeah, and take a final. Making it more hectic, you have to bag, clean and sanitize between every different protein in order to avoid cross-contamination. whew!
I missed 7 points on the final, but earned 3 extra credit, so I really only missed 4 points. The first third was questions from previous quizzes, so I got all those. Then there was true/false, where you had to correct the false statements. Then fill-in-the-blank.
Grades on practical as follows:
truss 4/5
1/4 technical 23/25 portion 23/25
1/6 technical 24 portion 25
flat technical 23 portion 24
round technical 23 portion 22
tenderloin technical 23 portion 24
organization/sanitation 48/50

I got a 93% in the class! Currently on the road to honor roll, people - woohoo!

I actually really liked Chef B today - yesterday too, actually. He and I joked around and chatted. He teased me about how small I write, so he made a tiny box for me on my grade sheet to see if i could fit my name in - which i totally did. And I made him admire what a nice job i did skinning the filet, because, people, it was amazing - I left no flesh at all on the skin. I think if I had super-sharp knives, i would be near perfect at fish. The grading on technical for the round fish - well, I was right in the middle, but the people who scrambled at the end before the time was up got better grades than me even though they left more flesh on the bone. I think he wanted his break.

So final analysis on the class/Chef. When he told us our grades, I told him twice that I had learned a lot. I meant it - he's tough, but boy do I really feel like I understand how to handle meat (ha! dirty!). And in the end...yeah, he has an ego, yeah, he likes to boss people around, and, yeah, he doesn't have the best teaching skills. But, if you show him you tried first and want help correcting your mistake, he was very good at showing you how. Plus, he was actually really interesting to talk to when there was down time. Turns out, he was a psych major in college. And, he ended class by saying he was very impressed by how well we all work together, and that we should never lose sight of that. And that should we need anything in the future, no matter the class or where we are, he's available to us. Which I thought was really nice.

I didn't go out last night because i had to go back to work again today. Next up: intro to baking. Yay!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Seafood, Day 3

Today we did other sea creatures...lobster, mussels, oysters, shrimp, and calamari. Mmmm I love calamari.
To remove the oyster meat, first clean the outside. They are dirty! Put cup-shaped side down on towel, then fold towel over flatter top. Stick in oyster knife (if you're going to do this a lot, get a good one - Sur la Table has a nice one that I borrowed from Irish) and when there is resistance, pivot knife to pop it. Then run the knife along inside to cut the abductor muscle at the top. Take off top, cut muscle underneath, then flip the oyster. Oh, yeah, and do all this without spilling the juice - apparently that's tasty. The third and last one I did, I finally did got it to pop really well. I tried one raw, but I didn't really like it. It was gritty and the consistency...I love squid in any form, but oysters...I don't know.
For shrimp, you just have to peel off the shell. This is realy easy to do. Don't forget to take the tiny legs with the shell! Leave the last segment before the tail on. To devein the shrimp, make a shallow cut with your paring knife along the top, and then pull out the vein (if it's dark, it has poop in it - really really tiny poop). Forget paying extra for shelled shrimp - this is so easy to do.
Tennessee and I made fried calamari. For the breading, we mixed flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and paprika. Season to taste (put a little on your arm and lick it - this is a really important step). Make sure you put in enough paprika so the flour is tinted - this will make a big difference in the golden brown color you get. Do breading stations - bread, egg wash (egg and little buttermilk), bread. Use one hand for dry, one hand for wet. Or bags - that works well too. By the way, and I say this with unashamed boasting, the one I threw together, it was the best one in the class. Tennessee grabbed the ingredients, but I put it together. Seriously. It was so good. Chef kept pointing back to our's as a comparison of the color other people should be getting. Again, camera would have been so wonderful here. Or you could just invite me over and allow me to fry up oil in your kitchen...
Then I sampled mussels (moules marinieres), shrimp tempura, and shrimp with garlic. I wasn't the biggest fan of the mussels either - similar feeling to oysters. My table did a good job with their recipes - i only sampled their's. Then they also made oyster po' boys for the class, but I don't eat mayo (hurts my stomach) so I just ate the delicious baguette Chef C made... so many carbs today. I walked out of class craving the spinach salad sitting in my fridge.
I've figured out who in the class is taking beyond their share of ingredients and why every time we cook some people get screwed - at the very least it's Sutra and Army. For the marsala, neither T nor I had any marsala wine, and there had been plenty in the bottle for the whole class. Luckily, there are kind people at our table, so we always share between each other, even if it means we end up with less than necessary for ourselves. Today, even though we were told to take less than 9 shrimp each, and Sutra somehow had about 20. Even after I pointed out to him that he should put some back so other people had some too, and he did, but apparently after I left he took more again. And Army, well, he sometimes takes other people's ingredients off their stations - and, he sometimes messes up his cooking, so he takes a second set of ingredients when other people haven't even had their first. You're not supposed to try again unless the Chef tells you to since ingredients are portioned out exactly per student.
Um. so. I kind of got in a giant fight with Nemo today. It's going to sound so stupid, and it totally is - he poked me at the end of class and told me I was going to be kitchen manager tomorrow. Which he knew I did not want to do (tomorrow is our final and I don't want the extra stress), so I said no. Twice, because he kept poking me. He walked away huffy and then told a couple people I wouldn't do it. Then when we were walking out in a group (regulars plus Whiskey since I now give him a ride home), he brought it up again. And, very loudly, I told him to stop making such a big deal about it already, which led to a back and forth shouting about who was making it a bigger deal, and then somehow he brought up how I had told 'people' about something from Friday, which I had not done, and I pointed out that he was the one actually telling people who weren't there... why we were shouting, I really had no idea. I'm not good at backing down when I think someone is being obstinate or saying something untrue about me (which is exactly when i should shut my mouth, since nothing is gained from an argument with someone like that). Possibly, he's frustrated with me because I haven't been as buddy-buddy to him this week as I usually am (I hang out a lot with Rico now); I have, actually, been a little sharp to him, but there's no specific reason so I can't explain it away to him...
Lessons learned:
Oysters live at the points where fresh water and salt water meet, and filter the water. This is why the juice in the shell is perfectly seasoned, and one can eat oysters raw without any extra seasoning.
The number on shrimp bags (ex. 31/35) is the number of shrimp per pound. So, smaller number means larger shrimp; larger number, smaller shrimp. Now you know for grocery shopping! Don't bother buying farmed shrimp - this is actually really bad for the environment.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Seafood, Day 2

I have two new characters to introduce:
Sutra, and Army.
Sutra: an 18-year-old originally from Miami, now living up here with his uncle. So named because we have recently discovered that he openly reads from the Kama Sutra before class. Yesterday he walked away, and someone found it on the table, and opened to the bookmarked page – fellatio. Life-like drawing and everything. Of a penis. And a tongue. Look, I don’t have a problem with someone reading up on this. Hell, go ahead, learn more and educate yourself. But before class? And then he comes back and says nonchalantly that he reads it on the El. How creeped out would you be if you realized the guy next to you was reading the Kama Sutra like it was a novel?
Army: This guy definitely rubs me the wrong way. I’ve been debating if I should mention him, but since lately he and I get into spats on an almost daily basis, it might be time to bring him up. I don’t know if he has PTSD, or he just really thinks he is that much more important than the rest of us, or he hates women or everyone, but he irritates me and several other people. Nemo was trying to shove his dishes at me for me to wash them, and I kept saying to him it wasn’t my job because I was on tables, and Army mutters ‘well, I’m on floors but we all have to do our part.’ Which probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s the way he says it, and the fact that Nemo and I were joking around, and this conversation was totally none of Army’s business and he should have kept his thoughts to himself. I mean, why didn’t he tell Nemo to wash his own dishes instead of criticizing me? Army also told me last week to “chill out” when he was the one speaking completely rudely toward me. Another classmate had to walk in-between us to keep me from going at him. He seems to have two moods only: snappy and whiny.
Last night we did trout and salmon. We had to filet two trout and share the salmon in pairs. I almost sliced through my hand. Let me set the scene: the tail end was toward my left, the direction I was cutting toward. I got to the middle of the fish and I was struggling to get my knife to cut through the pin bones so I’m gripping above the tail to pull it taut but it’s still not working – which was a good thing, because I realized that had the knife suddenly started cut through, I would have sliced right through my palm. As Chef says, that would have been Bad. Luckily, I had enough thought process to move my hand. The first one I left too much meat on the vertebrae, but the second one I listened more closely to Chef’s directions, and cut closer along the head before making the 90 degree turn along the vertebrae. That worked a lot better, and I left a lot less on the bone. I seem to be getting through fish a lot faster than I was with other proteins, so I finish ahead of everyone at my table except T. I don’t know why it is faster for me, but I just don’t find it as hard. I did pretty well on my salmon half, and I was pleased with it.
Then we cooked a piece of trout filet. Just salt and pepper on the trout, clarified butter in the pan, brown the skinless side (for presentation), then cook through on the skin side. Remove from the pan, then brown unsalted butter and lemon until it bubbles. Pour over the fish on the plate and serve to Chef. Mine was just slightly overdone, but I’ve never cooked real fish before, so I was pretty proud. I really liked how it tasted. I’ve never truly liked fish before, but this was really good.

Lessons learned:
Butter bubbles. And makes a cool frothy sauce.
When buying fish, you should look for clear eyes (except pike), pink/red gill color, smells fresh and clean, not slimy (except trout), firm, and scales not falling off (if left on). Most likely, if you’re buying at a counter, they’ll filet it for you, but you can also get it drawn (eviscerated), dressed (eviscerated, no scales, and no head), steaks, or traunches.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seafood, Day 1

Congratulations go out to Cari for completing the Chicago Breast Cancer 3-day walk - 60 miles, people, that's a whole lot of walking!! Way to go Cari!!

Today we did flat fish. If he did name what type of fish it was, I missed it. Since I've barely even eaten fish outside of sushi beore, it was a little creepy for me to touch. Plus, the eyes...

We brushed the scales off both sides, then removed four filets off of each fish (we had two each). Once we did that, we then removed the skin from the filets. Here we had to hold the knife between the skin and the filet, and put pressure hard down against the cutting board. Oh, but I did talk back to Chef today in front of everyone sice he really pissed me off. He announces to the class that we don't need to keep the fish carcasses, and then I dare to ask, so, you don't want to see them? He launched into how he had already explained this three times that he wanted to see everything, and when I said I had been confused by his statement, he repeated it again, and, well, that just pissed me off, so I very loudly said that I had been listening and understood very well, but his most recent statement seemed to say something different... he just looked at me across the room, and I turned around and got ice. That man. I think I'm actually going to do the weekly survey the school sends. There are so many things about this school that pisses me off. The lies in admissions. The rude teachers. The not getting the correct materials for us to learn how to cook.

But this was a pretty simple task, and then we spent the last hour watching a video on fish sustainability. It was a PBS video, and it was really interesting. "Empty Oceans Empty Nets" Basically, oceans are over-fished, which means fisherman are going further and further out to get fish, which are also being fished younger, which means they haven't had time to reproduce, which means they aren't replenishing... You get the point. But. People are trying to do something about it, at least in some places. Farming for certain species works, like mussels, tilapia, and oysters, but not for carniverous fish, since you need to fish to feed them, thus totally nulling the point of farming... Or, like they've done in Alaska with halibut and salmon, fisherman have to buy into a kind of co-op, which has limited membership, which has catch quotas and limits boats. Also, you can buy only from providers that have the Marine Stewardship Council seal on cans or fresh packages, because it certifies fisheries based on their use of sustainable methods. Or go on Seafood Watch, to learn what fish you should or should not be buying.

Lessons learned:
It's important to get as much information as possible. Looking for a seal is a good first step, but it's not like we can expect people to spend a lot more just for the seal when we all have budgets we have to live by. So, do what you can, but if you can't right now, I don't think it should bother you. At least that's my opinion. If I buy fish in the future, I'll probably go to Whole Foods (where I otherwise would not bother to shop since it's expensive and I'm a budget shopper) because they follow the MSC goal.

P.S. Many thanks to Steph who gave me a shout-out on her own lovely blog... you're great, Steph!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

More Cooking

We started today with the second quiz. I thought this one was easier than the last one. We had to name the primals of veal, pork, and lamb, and then there were some other fill-in-the-blank questions. I think I might have gotten at least a B. I wasn't sure the exact names of some of the primals.
We got to do more cooking today. Rico and I partnered again. Since I had screwed up our lamb shank, Chef let us use his. This was so good. We braised the lamb (dredged in seasoned flour), and then removed it, browned mire poix (2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, 1 part celery), deglazed the pan with red wine, put back the lamb, and then fill the pot 2/3 of the way with stock. It went in the oven for 1.5 hours, but was turned at 45 minutes. Then we strained the pot, depouillage the liquid (remove impurities), and then reduced the liquid to sauce consistency. Monte au bur (end with butter), then coat the lamb shank with the liquid and present to chef. Our liquid was a little loose but I would have drank the sauce... Seriously.
Then we cooked livers and sweetbreads. As in, the thymus gland of veal. Yum.
Brown onions - this will take a really long time. Set over very low heat, add water so it doesn't stick to the pan, and then turn occassionally.
Render bacon, then remove from pan.
Dredge liver in seasoned flour, then brown in pan, remove when rare
Add 1 T brown sugar and 1 T Dijon mustard, dissolve off heat.
Add 3 oz cider vinegar to pan, then add 3 oz stock to taste.
Put liver back, and reduce sauce
Browned onions on plate, then plate liver and a little sauce. Top with bacon.
Show Chef, taste one bite, throw out the liver and eat some of the delicious onions until they start to taste like liver and then throw out as well.
Sauteed Sweetbread
I didn't watch Rico make this, so I'm not sure exactly how it's made, but I think you dredge the sweetbread in seasoned flour, then braise in clarified butter until done. I made a side salad of celery hearts, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. This will make a delicious salad after you throw out the sampled sweetbread you showed Chef. Somehow, the one Rico made me was perfectly done, but the one she made for herself was still a little rare. Whoops. Rico liked it, and I thought the flavor was fine, but I couldn't get over what it was...
Class was hectic, due to all the cooking, but it was fun. T., Nemo, Rico, and I went out after - the double T bought me was too strong, which turned me off for drinking the rest of the night. I think I might need to stop drinking rum&cokes for a little while...maybe I'll switch back to raspberry stolis and sprite... Any other recommendations?
Really wish I had remembered my camera, because these would have made really good photos - I used real plates and everything!

Lessons learned:
It's good to sample everything, but sometimes, one can't get over knowing what body part something actually is...

Sausage and Cooking

Yay, we got to cook! We worked in teams of four today - but we were the group of five. Which meant we made two sausages. In addition to gyros. We made the Merguez (lamb) and Italian (pork - spicy).
The Merguez is lamb, salt, sugar, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, roasted and pureed red pepper, black pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, and ice water.
The Italian is pork butt, fennel seds, black pepper, red pepper flakes, white wine, minced garlic, parmesan, parsley, and salt. And it is a lot of red pepper.
I gathered the Merguez ingredients, and then T. and Tennessee mixed them. You need to make sure the everything is cold and it all combines well. It is well mixed when it is stringy. The fat keeps the sausage from being dry.
Instead of using the cleaned intestines to mold the sausages, we used food-grade plastic wrap - don't try this at home, kids: this stuff can be put in an oven up to 500 degrees, it's not just any old plastic wrap. you put the meat on the wrap in a log shape less than 2 inches in diameter, roll the wrap around, and then roll it in one direction along the table until it is tight and smooth. Then wrap the roll in aluminum foil. Put into the oven, bake until done.
Our team had the best flavored sausages and gyro meat. We did a great job - it's okay for me not to be humble since it was a team thing...
Chef C - our teacher for intro to baking - made us pitas. They were so good. I'm looking forward to having him - he comes into our class a lot, and he seems really nice and chats with us. I've already talked to him about how I have to miss the first Friday of his class for my sister's wedding, which means I'll have to make up a practical, which should be interesting how I'm going to do that since I'll be back to working full time at that point...

Lessons learned:
Sausage is kind of fun to make. It was really hectic today, trying to get it all cooked in time, but I at least found out my thermometer that I bought definitely works. Good to know.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Wednesday we did lamb. Teams again. I love lamb. It's so good. We learned all about the history of lamb in America, which of course was an hour lecture, again. I mentioned to my friends that I purposely wait to take a bathroom break until he's started talking, because otherwise, I can't stay awake while he talks. They said they've noticed. And that I eat a snack. And go get my water bottle. ha! It's the only way to not want to throttle him as he clearly enjoys his voice and laughs at his own jokes...

Anyway. We cut off the shank, each did the rack of lamb, and chop roasts. Here, I made a mistake - I thought we were supposed to debone the shank, but, nope, we were supposed to leave it in for roasting the next day. Rico took the blame to Chef, but I didn't want her to do that. She said she doesn't mind because he doesn't yell at her as much as he does me, but I didn't feel that was right. But she was right in some sense, because instead of yelling, he said we could just have his.

We saved the fat and extra meat for grinding - for gyros the next day...

Lessons learned:

Lamb smells. A lot. Someone told me that's just the smell that comes from gamey meats.

Oh, and I need to make a clarification on a description of Chef I had given at the beginning of this class. I've decided he's not so much a vegetarian, as someone who likes to complain or expound on how awful meat is treated... which, whatever, I'm not saying I agree with factory farming, but seriously, Chef, shut up already. You are only talking because you like your own voice, not because you have convinced us you actually care...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Sorry for being awol - I've been having major connectivity issues, so I haven't been able to access websites that I want to keep secure. Supposedly, it's working now - I'll try to post either after class today or tomorrow during the day.


Tuesday we worked with pork. We worked in teams, me with Rico. I like partnering with her, because she kind of takes pity on me. I mean, I try to do my part, but she can tell this class really isn't a special skill area for me. Plus, she kind of enjoys standing up to Chef. And he takes it when she does. Although he still really pisses her off.

We had the loin and part of the butt. We had to cut pork chops, baby back ribs, two roasts, and stew meat. I did the ribs, and helped clean off fat and silverskin. Having a Muslim father, I really don't know very much about pork. Oh, I love me some bacon, but I've eaten pork only a couple times, and certainly don't know what chops and ribs are supposed to look like. So I needed lots of tips and we cut away.

Rico did the harder work - she had to remove the knuckles off the back bone, which takes really intricate knife work. And according to her, is extremely frustrating.

We cut the chops and ribs for the cafe

Lessons learned:

Pork bones can be trashed - Chef says nobody has a need for pork stock.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Okay, wow, finally. I'm still having internet issues, but let's see if I can get a couple posts out.

Monday we worked on veal. In case you didn't know, veal is a biproduct of the dairy industry - male calves that obviously can't be used for milking. Veal is very pink and has very little fat - they are fed a formula diet.

We worked with the right hind leg, in teams - just because it's a 'baby' doesn't mean it's actually small... we had to clean the silverskin and fat, and then cut scaloppini to be cooked later in the week. Scaloppini are butterfly-shaped pieces of the leg. Lovely Chef B. brought me to tears when he came over and 'kindly' told me my pieces were too big. Then, when I did it over and showed it to him, he only chooses then to mention that 'oh, you could have just cut your pieces in half, you didn't have to do it over.' Gee, Chef, maybe if you actually instructed instead of just telling someone they did it wrong... it's just a thought.

Then he did a cooking demo - in complete silence. And when students tried to ask questions, he wouldn't even answer, he just glared and put his finger to his lips. Later, he calimed to Irish this is because people in our class have trouble listening and following directions. That might have been aimed at me, but there may have been others - I didn't put my tenderloin on ice when he did a cutting demo on Rico's cutting board right next to me.

So, other than that fun stuff with cutting up veal, there was a tornado warning in the city. Except, we didn't actually know about it since we're in the basement already until Chef started getting annoyed at the noise in the hallway - someone ducked in and informed him that everyone was in the basement due to the sirens. Chef allowed us five minutes to check in with family, and then while everyone else got out of class, we went right back to listening to him lecture. I love storms, so I was sorry I missed this one - from what I could tell on my drive home, lots of trees were knocked down. It was pouring buckets when we got out at 11:40 - in addition to getting soaked while walking to my car, I couldn't actually see the road in front of me. But luckily that didn't last the whole way home. But, I did see a biker hit by a car (run into a car?). As far as I could tell while I was at the stoplight, the biker was fine and got up. Which was good.

Lessons learned:

Deep breaths stop tears. This was five days ago, so I'm having trouble remembering what I learned.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Relaxing Day

Today we had a substitute chef. It was soooo relaxed in the classroom. But we did start with a quiz. I kind of had a rough-ish afternoon, so that didn't really help my difficulties studying. But I did manage to learn most of the prime and sub-prime cuts of beef and their moist v. dry cooking. Kind of didn't bother looking at all at the chicken or duck notes... but some of it came back to me. I may have pulled off a C on it.
Oh! But that reminds me! I got a 95% on my Sanitation test! Woohoo! Definitely can get my state certification if I decide to. I probably didn't beat T., but from what I heard the rest of my friends say, I did better than them... That stuff was interesting, and it does kind of stick with you...

So with the sub, we actually cooked, and were done early. Which led to a lot of muttering that it isn't us, it is Chef's obsession with his own voice. But I completely screwed up and cut the loin with the grain, instead of against the grain. And the sub didn't catch me until I had lost basically all my meat (don't worry, I cut it into stew meat - we don't trash it). But if it had been Chef B... Irish pointed out I would have caught it if he had been there, so I was lucky I made the mistake tonight. I shrugged and began cutting it into cubes, but Rico says I'm too hard on myself - she says I tend to triple-check myself after I screw up. Which is true. I do do that.
Then we grilled a fillet (so good), and seared a smaller cut of tenderloin. My sauce was too thin on this - I put too much cream. I couldn't eat more than a couple bites of this - I had some of my other steak and then wrapped it to take home. T. allowed me to eat some of his burned fat though - I seriously love that. A lot of people think it's gross but oh man when it's still melting from the heat of the grill.... it can't be reheated, so it has to be eaten right away.
A marinade was used for the grilled steak, but I was still cutting away at my meat, so I missed what it had besides garlic and shallots - I don't know the liquid. For the seared steak, we made Steak au Poivre, which is as follows:
-put oil in hot pan
-salt and pepper both sides of steak, then place in hot pan
-sear both sides, then place in oven to complete cooking
-briefly (seriously, just about 15 seconds) saute garlic and shallot
-pour in cognac - it lights on fire!
-when the fire goes out, pour in veal stock and cream
-add two pats of butter to finish off the sauce
-pour into bottom of plate - enough sauce for each bite of steak

Okay, I'm sorry to go completely off topic, but I really just have to emphasize that every single person needs to be watching The Wire. I caught up to the dvds this weekend, and I really really love that show. I've only worked with Hispanic gangbangers, so I can't verify the authenticity of it, but from what I've read, people say it really is accurate.

Lessons learned:
My friends in this class - I have really quickly learned to depend on them. If not that we are such good friends already, but that I have a lot of fun with them. Even when Chef B is there, we find a way to laugh. If only for having met such a great group of people, I am glad I did this program. On that note, the group is being split up next class. When Rico pointed this out, there was quite the uproar - people really do not want to be separated. I think Nemo and I are under different chefs. Sad. Sad. Sad. I mean, I can still see him before class, or any of the rest of my friends, but, still, sad.